Accepted Paper:

The cloak of democracy: unintelligible violence and the shadow state in post-war El Salvador  
Ainhoa Montoya (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid)

Paper short abstract:

In post-war El Salvador, conspicuous aspects of violence have been foregrounded by the government that simultaneously obfuscate elements that relate violence to the present-day political economy and might question the actual completion of the country's transition from war to peace.

Paper long abstract:

Eighteen years after the cessation of the war that devastated El Salvador throughout the 1980s, violence has become deeply ingrained in the everyday life of this country. The ongoing high levels of violence have not provoked an outcry from the Salvadoran governments and international community, but are instead deemed residual problems within a new stage of liberal democracy and neoliberal capitalism. Homicides, extortion, ordinary crime, and a landscape in which security is being outsourced while militarisation is simultaneously increasing have made the experience of violence in post-war El Salvador highly unintelligible. My fieldwork in a Salvadoran municipio in 2009 allows me to argue that youth gang violence, a conspicuous manifestation of the country's violence, has been deployed as a scapegoat by the ARENA governments, thereby obfuscating other aspects of violence that might call into question the successful completion of the country's transition from war to peace.

Panel W103
Sourcing/outsourcing state violence: concealment, legitimacy, sovereignty